10 Ingredients to look out for in Baby Wipes

I am not a great fan of baby wipes. The reason for this is that these wipes along with sweet fragrances are laden with hidden chemicals which may be harmful to the baby’s sensitive skin. Which wipes do you prefer and are they laden with chemicals:

All of us use baby wipes and not one or two but in abundance. Most of us have an unlimited stock and we usually place these in the diaper bags, bathrooms, cars, shopping bags, strollers, you name a place and there it is … bang!! the baby wipes.

Baby wipes are actually wet wipes which are used to clean a baby’s soft yet sensitive skin. Most of these wipes come in a pack of 30 or 100 sheets. And not to forget they claim to provide freshness to the baby apart from being gentle to their skin. But seriously have you ever picked up the packet and read the ingredients thoroughly. Never, then do it now. Most of these ingredients which prevent bacteria and give a pleasant smell are nothing but hazardous.

Well, I am not saying that there are products which are totally chemical free. Most of our day to day products like shampoos, lotions, creams, soaps, toothpaste and not to forget the floor cleaners and other disinfectants are heavily laden with chemicals. But what freaks me out totally is the introduction of these chemicals to babies at a tender age. Children are affected more by these toxins since they:

  • breathe faster than adults and can inhale more toxins as compared to adults
  • put their hands and fingers often in their mouths
  • have a higher surface area, where they absorb more through their skin
  • have developing organs which are at a risk of damage when exposed to chemicals

When my daughter was small, I would avoid using these wipes and most of the times I preferred using a wet cloth to clean or freshen her up. I also opted to stay away from wipes since I figured out pretty early that my little one erupted with rashes when used for the first time.

Next time around when you go shopping for your favourite baby wipes, do make sure that you read the ingredients carefully. Some of the chemicals which must not be used and are hidden in these goody-goody wipes are:

  1. Formaldehyde: This is a very powerful chemical and is known to be a carcinogen. If exposed to the skin for too long may lead to allergic reactions along with irritation to the eyes and lungs.
  2. Phthalates: These are mentioned as perfume or parfum in the ingredients and are mainly used to create last longing fragrances. Most companies use fragrances mixes which contain diethyl phthalate. This often leads to disruptions in the hormones. Did you know that phthalates pose a greater risk to the little boys by causing a hindrance in their sperm development … watch out!!! 
  3. Methylisothiazolinone: This is mostly mentioned as Methylisothiazolinone or MI. This is a widely used preservative which inhibits bacterial growth and may lead to dermatitis.
  4. Sodium Lauryl Sulfate: Though this is obtained from coconut oil, still it should be given a miss as the surfactant is good enough to irritate the baby’s skin. It may also have an adverse effect on the eyes.
  5. Iodopropynyl butylcarbamate: This preservative is basically used in the paint and wood industry but found its way to the cosmetic industry, where it has been labeled as toxic. This leads to dermatitis and if inhaled can be toxic. Use of this chemical during pregnancy is also a big NO since it may lead to birth defects.
  6. Parabens: When looking at the ingredients look for propylparaben, methylparaben, ethylparaben, butylparaben … in short anything ending with paraben. Since parabens, stop the growth of bacteria and fungus they are widely used in a wide range of cosmetic and healthcare products. However, the biggest concern of using this preservative is that it may lead to the disruption of hormonal functions as it mimics estrogen. It is also believed to be linked to an increased risk of breast cancer.
  7. Tocopheryl acetate: This is a synthetic and man-made version of  Vitamin E and acetic acid. Despite being FDA approved, it irritates the skin and has carcinogenic effects when used for a long time. Also, it has side effects like swelling, burning sensation and itching.
  8. Polyethylene Glycol (PEG): Trick to identify this ingredient is that it starts with PEG, often followed by a number. This chemical strips the skin of its natural moisture and may cause damage to the immune system.
  9. Propylene Glycol: This is derived from petroleum. The synthetic solvent can cause irritation, allergic reactions, rashes, along with immune and neurotoxicity.
  10. Ethylene Oxide: This is added in the process of ethoxylation which reduces the harshness of the petrochemical raw materials. Also during ethoxylation 1,4-Dioxane is formed, which if not stripped properly may remain in the wipes. Both ethylene oxide and 1,4-Dioxane are carcinogenic and regular use may lead to an increased risk of cancer in babies.

Worried!! after reading this … Don’t get hassled, here is what you can do:

  • Make your own wipes with water, coconut oil and some fragrance like lavender
  • Use cotton wool and water
  • Clean with water and dab dry with a towel, or
  • Opt for chemical-free brand wipes

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Shubhra Rastogi Written by:

Well, about me I can say that I am a certified dentist, healthcare analyst, medical writer and above all a mother of a 6-year-old. Most of my day to day activities revolve around her and she is my inspiration to start this blog. As a mother, I experimented with a lot of new things for my little one in a quest to find the best for her. I just want to share my experiences of being a happy and content mum.

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